Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald

Helena Stoeckley Reemerges

Bernie Segal did not know at the time of the trial that in 1978 Helena Stoeckley had contacted the FBI and told an agent that she was involved with the MacDonald killings.   She was being treated in Raleigh, NC, hospital for depression and suicidal tendencies, but showed no signs of drug use when she entered the hospital.

At the trial, she said that on the night of the murders, she was with her boyfriend Greg Mitchell and several soldiers from Fort Bragg.  They were all taking drugs and she did not specifically remember what she did between midnight and 5 A.M.  She admitted owning a floppy hat, a shoulder-length blond wig, and boots.  She had burned the wig because it connected her with the murders. 

Segal questioned her on why she had told six people that she had been in the MacDonald's house at the time of the murders.  She claimed that she did not remember. 

One of those witnesses was Fayetteville police detective Prince Beasley who heard her say on the morning of the murders that "In my mind, I saw this thing happen."   Another witness was a friend who heard her admit that she was at the MacDonald apartment and held a candle while the crimes were committed.  Two others were police officers who heard her admit to being present when Colette and the children were murdered.   Additionally, an Army polygraph expert confirmed that Helena said she was present at the crime scene and had explained that her companions chose to punish MacDonald for refusing to give out methadone to drug addicted soldiers.

Ruling that Stoeckley's statements were "untrustworthy," Judge Dupree allowed the witnesses to testify but not regarding statements that Stoeckley made about the murders.  This ruling was a major setback to the defense.

One of the most amazing things in the entire Stoeckley matter was that Stoeckley had confessed directly to Prosecutor Brian Murtagh just before the trial.  This information was not made available to the defense, regardless of the requirement that exculpatory information be released to the defense before trial.


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